FORCEDAPOLOGYFORCED APOLOGY AGAIN, CHIPOTLE?
The Force Awakens
To say that Netflix’s Occupied, a 10- episode political thriller, is more bingeworthy than a program about chopping wood might be setting the bar awfully low. But National Firewood Night, a 12-hour documentary that tackles whether to stack split logs with the bark facing up or down, got better ratings in Norway, where both shows were first broadcast. Fortunately for us, Occupied translates better over here.
Set in and around Oslo, Occupied takes place in a near future in which Norway has ceased drilling for oil and gas to prevent more loss of life and damage from climate change. There’s a passing reference to a catastrophic hurricane that precipitated this ecocommitment, but that backstory is mostly evoked in the opening credit montage. Civil wars in the Middle East have choked off oil supplies, and the European Union, thrust into a fuel crisis, backs a Russian plan to take over Norway’s former petroleum industry. Fifteen minutes into the pilot, Jesper Berg, the Norwegian prime minister, is taken hostage, and during a short helicopter ride he receives an offer from Moscow he can’t refuse: Let us restore North Sea oil production to previous levels, and we’ll let you resume your alternative- energy plans. Berg blinks.
If the premise seems a reach, Occupied is so well-scripted and finely acted that it’s easy to suspend disbelief. Our principals are Berg ( Henrik Mestad); his bodyguard, Hans Martin Djupvik (Eldar Skar); an enterprising journalist, Thomas Eriksen ( Vegar Hoel); and Wenche Arnesen (Ragnhild Gudbrandsen), the terminally ill head of Norway’s version of the CIA. More far-fetched than the geopolitics may be the degree to which the plot depends on Djupvik, who rescues the prime minister, saves the Russian ambassador from assassination, and becomes a double agent. And that’s all in the first three episodes.
Jo Nesbo, a member of the same class of Scandinavian noir writers as Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell, is credited with the idea for Occupied. You can think of the show as a lower-body- count 24 meets a higher-subtitle- count Man in the High Castle, with elements of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
It’s tempting to place Occupied within the growing niche of “cli-fi,” or climate fiction. Thorium power, Berg’s alternative- energy solution, is a real thing—aa form of nuclear energy that relies pri- marily on thorite instead of enriched uranium. (It’s safer, too; thorium reactors don’t melt down.) Yet with its porr trayal of an anti- Russian resistance movement— Fritt Norge— and, in parrticular, a live-video assassination of a Russian, Nesbo appears more inclined d toward an allegory about Islamic State.e. Appropriating its shock tactics, Occupied seems on the verge of asking difficult questions about when, or if, terrorism is justifiable as self- defense.
If Nesbo intends a deeper moral inquiry, Occupied doesn’t manage it, but it does have charm. It’s easily one of the best recent series for ogling modern architecture. And the after-hours diversion may well inspire viewers to lead crisper meetings. These Vikings get right to the point. Occupied also affirms that the cortado is the coffee bar order of the moment on both sides of the Atlantic. You’ll need one, too, the morning after you’ve stayed up all night finishing the series. <BW>
It takes 784,000
quarters to make $196,000,
a calculation authorities had to do after charging a former Brink’s
security guard with stealing that
amount of coin from the Federal Reserve Bank
of Atlanta. Internet nerds are freaking out over a scene in
in which Leia hugs Rey, whom she’s never
met, but ignores Chewbacca after— spoiler alert!— Han Solo, the Wookiee’s best friend, is killed. Director J.J. Abrams sort of apologized,
saying the scene’s blocking was “probably”
a mistake. Just when the fast-food chain thought it might be rebounding from its struggles following E. coli and norovirus outbreaks, it had to temporarily shut down a location outside Boston after four employees got sick. In The Comeback, author G. Bruce Knecht alleges that Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA won the America’s Cup in 2013 using an illegal technique called pumping— flapping the yacht’s “wing” to help it go faster. The team denies the charge.
Earlier this month, John Cook, the executive editor of Gawker Media, was forced to live out the personal nightmare of the modern, groupchatting professional class. He had to explain in open court why he and his staff had been making penis jokes. “I would characterize it as workplace humor,” he’d said in a deposition taped last year that was played in front of a jury and livestreamed online.
Terry Gene Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, is suing Gawker for $100 million over a video the site posted in 2012 featuring the wrestler having sex with the wife of a friend. Included in the evidence are more than 30 pages of Gawker conversations from the work-chat platform Campfire, starting with “we’re about to post the Hulk Hogan sex tape” and devolving into jokes about whether Hogan’s penis was “wearing a little do-rag” and a discussion regarding the color and consistency of Hogan’s “pubes”—and that’s just two pages in.
Since that conversation occurred, group chat has only become more prevalent in offices, mostly because it cuts down on e-mail. Campfire now has 100,000 daily active users; Slack has 2 million. (Gawker switched from Campfire to Slack in 2014.) Another service called Hipchat says billions of messages have been sent using its service.
Workplace chat is often called a digital water cooler, because it’s where co-workers have informal conversations at the office—sometimes about work, sometimes not. “Our normal workplace interactions have moved to digital environments and therefore become permanent in ways that water cooler chat never was,” says Eric Goldman, a professor of technology law at Santa Clara University School of Law.
The very nature of chat—its informality and speed—makes gossiping and joking easy. Slack has features that encourage levity, including a GIF generator and customizable emoji. So now is a good time to remind anyone at work: Chat like everyone is watching. “Any electronic records that are relevant to a particular claim are discoverable in civil cases,” says Dori Hanswirth, the head of the media litigation practice at Hogan Lovells. “There is no, ‘Well, I was just being funny with my friendly co-workers’ exemption. If it’s out there and gettable, there’s a chance that it will end up in the hands of some legal adversary of your company.”
Multiple lawyers had never heard of Slack, but their advice is platformagnostic: Never write anything—in any format, to anyone—that you wouldn’t want to end up on the front page of the New York Times. “We all say things in the workplace that we don’t want repeated,” Hanswirth says. “But there’s a level of discourse that you may not want to have in writing of any kind.”
Slack lets premium subscribers set custom retention periods for chat records so they self- destruct after a certain amount of time. (For nonpaying subscribers, the messages stay on Slack’s servers indefinitely, although you can manually get rid of them whenever you want.) “This deletion is permanent, and the messages and files are irretrievable,” Slack’s help page warns in bold letters. But that shouldn’t change chatters’ behavior. Lawyers employ an army of people to find information. Plus, you never know when a suit will be filed; companies have an obligation to halt standard destruction policies once a claim is made.
Of course, we all know that we’re not supposed to document dumb, mean, bigoted, or crude ideas. But even in regulated industries such as Wall Street, where digital communications, including Slack chats, are explicitly saved and monitored, people continue to put the wrong things in writing. In one case, a one-word chat (“awesome!”) effectively revised an existing contract, costing an e-cigarette maker $1.2 million.
In a courtroom setting, chats, however tongue-in-cheek they may be, could color how the jury judges the case. “It’s understandable that people will use these platforms for casual conversation,” Hanswirth says. “But sometimes it’s hard to explain to [a jury] that you really were not being serious.” <BW>
“For years I traveled with our CEO, John Rogers, everywhere he
went. I was pseudo chief of staff. He would
hand me things off his desk and say,
‘Do it, fix it.’ The assignments got more important over time.”
“Diane Sawyer read an article about me and called. I was in shock.
She recognized that we don’t have African American women
talking about money, and she was my advocate at ABC.” “I got really good grades and did the extra credit. I was that kid. I wanted to be a television anchor.” “We met at the Forstmann Little Conference in Aspen.
I told him I was on the Dreamworks board, and we chatted about the movie business. The next year he said he was coming to Chicago to give a speech and would I be in town? I said I’d love to have dinner.”